by Jan Davisson
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in outstanding drama, this past month in Palm Beach County was like the best of New York’s Broadway. Let’s start with the phenomenal production of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Disgraced. Written by Ayad Akhtar, the show explores uncharted territory and gives insight into the many ways different groups are discriminated against and the lasting effects on their personal lives.
A brilliant cast directed by J. Barry Lewis, presented an entire evening of thought provoking subjects. Starting with Amir (Fajer Kaisi) and his nephew Abe (Eddie Morales) both American Muslins. Their stories demonstrate how the constant insults and barbs regarding their Muslim heritage can change their perspective on life. Kaisi is a three-dimensional character as he changes throughout the evening. The changes are subtle at first but are dramatic as the dinner party conversations with Isaac (Joel Reuben Ganz), a Jew; and Isaac’s black wife, Jory, (Chantal Jean-Pierre). It seems that although friends, they’ve never had an open discussion on their feelings of discrimination. Because of their ethnicity, they’ve all been subjected to it.
The only one not in the loop is the WASP wife of Amir, Emily (Vanessa Morosco. A painter, she feels that she has an insightful understanding of the Muslim people because of her love of the history of Moorish art. Needless to say, her naive outlook is demolished when she starts hearing the true facts from the others, especially Abe, the nephew. The sixteen-year-old had even changed his name to Abe to better fit in with his American peers. Seems that this didn’t help with the bullying and soon he is embracing radical Muslim ideas. This is a scary thought about what happens when discrimination takes hold.
The cast is fantastic, and I’m sure that a couple will be up for the 2017 Carbonell Awards. Which ones, I couldn’t say, they were all outstanding, each actor convincing in their role. A truly stunning production. The play was followed by a session after the show to “continue the conversation.” Lots of thoughts from the audience. It was hard to stop thinking about the subject as you left the theater.
Not so, the next production…we’ll be singing as we leave the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. After all, you can hardly hear the music of Jule Styne without breaking out in song. Gypsy has earned a place in the Great American Song Book with such hits as Everything’s Coming Up Roses and Let Me Entertain You. The role of the mother of Gypsy Rose Lee has been played on stage by some top-notch actors including Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone, and who could ever forget Ethel Merman as Mama Rose in the movie?
Broadway veteran Vicki Lewis will star in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre production opening March 21-April 9.
For ticket information, please contact: Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 1001 E. Indiantown Rd, Jupiter, Tickets: (561) 575-2223; www.jupitertheatre.org
Kravis on Broadway
Speaking of classic musicals, the Kravis on Broadway series is bringing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. The tour is in celebration of Phantom being the longest running show on Broadway…29 years. It took the crown away from another Webber hits…Cats.
The Kravis production is the premiere performance as part of a brand new North American Tour. Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production includes new scenic design and spectacular special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The choreography and costumes and even the lighting design are all new. The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, celebrates this beloved story and the outstanding music and lyrics by Charles Hart, with songs like Music of the Night, All I Ask of You and Masquerade performed by a cast and orchestra of 52. This makes Phantom one of the largest productions on tour…and you’ll get a chance to see it from March 23-April 1. I’d suggest getting your tickets early as it will be a sell out.
While you’re getting your Phantom tickets, you might want to reserve you seats for the show opening April 18-23—Kinky Boots—another Tony Award winner with music by Cyndi Lauper and written by Harvey Fierstein.
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach Tickets (561) 832-7469 or (800) 572-8471; www.kravis.org
Palm Beach Dramaworks
When it comes to consistently outstanding drama, you can always count on Palm Beach Dramaworks. The most recent is Collected Stories featuring a cast of two. The story is about integrity and ethics.
When a young writer decides to write a book about her professor/mentor and her revelation that she had an affair with a well-known poet, it creates a moral dilemma. In fact, you leave the theater trying to decide what you’d do in the same circumstances.
The Donald Margulies play provides much food for thought, and it’s delivered by two outstanding actors. Anne Marie Cusson as Ruth Steiner, the mentor, doesn’t miss a beat. She’s the steady actor who keeps the story line on track so that Keira Keely as Lisa Morrison can make her transitions from flighty apprentice so over confident writer. Directed by Paul Stancato, who last directed Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre, he gets his actors to keep a low-key performance despite a situation that could easily end up as a screaming match. To me, this enhanced the performances and allowed the actors plenty of time to show their acting talents. Shows like this is what had kept Palm Beach Dramaworks around for the past 17 seasons. Next up is the Tom Stoppard award-winning play, Arcadia, opening March 31 and running through April. Watch for my review in the April Curtain Up.
A short note about an interesting program at Palm Beach Dramaworks. They have a program called Dramalogue with special guests who explore all aspects of the upcoming production. Next up is hosted by director J. Barry Lewis on Tuesday, April 4. The discussions will center around playwright Tom Stoppard. The talks are at 2 and 7 p.m. and tickets are $23. Call (561) 514-4042 for reservations or additional information.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information, contact the box office at (561) 514-4042 or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
The Wick in Boca Raton
From Andrew Lloyd Webber to Jule Stein and now the prolific songwriter Frank Loesser’s most beloved show, Guys & Dolls, how lucky can the Palm Beach audience get? It’s pure joy and fun to revisit all of these classic Broadway hits. Guys &Dolls is one of those shows where each actor is a strong character from Charley the Horse to Nicely-Nicely.
The book written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows is based on two Damon Ruyon’s short stories. Blood Pressure and The Idyll of Sarah Brown. It opened on Broadway in 1950 starring Vivian Blaine as Miss Adelaide, star of the Hot Box and Robert Alda as Sky Masterson, a big-time gambler. It won numerous awards including a Tony as the Best Musical. Five years later, it became a missed cast musical starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. Even so, the great songs told a story and made it fun to watch. In 1992, a revival on Broadway starred Nathan Lane as Nathan Detroit, the fourteen-year fiancée of the very impatient Miss Adelaide portrayed by Faith Prince. The show garnered seven Drama Desk Awards and numerous Tony Award nominations. Guys& Dolls had not lost its charm. How could it possibly go wrong with such songs as “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Take Back Your Mink,” sung by Miss Adelaide and the Hot Box Girls and Adelaide’s solo, Adelaide’s Lament; “Sit Down Your Rockin’ the Boat” and “I Got the Horse Right Here” (“Can Do”) plus numerous other songs featuring the Damon Ruyon gamblers, complete in garish pin striped suits and fedoras.
Since the Wick Theatre and Costume Museum is staging this production, you can bet that the costuming will be spectacular. It’s time to watch big-time gambler, Sky Masterson, try to win a bet by talking Sarah Brown, a Salvation Army worker from the Save a Soul Mission, into leaving the country for Havana. If you’ve never seen Guys & Dolls, don’t miss this opportunity. If you haven’t seen it for the past several years, it’s time to renew a love affair with the words and music of this Damon Ruyon delight.
If time allows, select a Saturday matinee, and make it a spectacular day by setting up a morning tour of the Costume Museum followed by luncheon in the Tavern at the Wick, followed by Guys & Dolls. It’s a treat you won’t forget. Guys & Dolls runs March 9, 2017 through April 9.
The Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Box Office (561) 995-2333 or www.wick.org